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The Tiger effect was real.

When Tiger Woods was leading a tournament, it didn’t matter if he was playing well or playing poorly. He intimidated the other players to such a degree that it was easier for him to win than it would have been for the average player. That’s not a knock on his record. He had to do the things he did and prove what he proved to earn that respect and fear.

But then it all changed.

When Tiger came back the first time, after his personal problems, I was on the practice range for that first event. Tiger heard plenty of cheers, but there were also some boos. He looked different. He wasn’t the same intimidating player, and the other players responded accordingly. The culture of the tour shifted, and there was more room for more players to expand their game.

So we saw–and continue to see–a run of amazing young players hitting heroic shots with seemingly no fear. First Rory McIlroy, then Jordan Spieth and Jason Day and Dustin Johnson, and now Brooks Koepka at the U.S. Open last week. They all play as if they’re ready to win multiple majors, because they are ready mentally. They’ve seen it in their minds, and it is a realistic, attainable goal for them.


We’re in a new era, just like the time directly after Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile. Runners then saw that was thought to be impossible was possible, and the record fell many more times. Now, we have players shooting 59 (and even 58) more regularly, and I think that’s something we’re going to see even more frequently.

The bar that was set by Tiger? It’s gone now, and there’s a new paradigm.When the great coaches Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott started their Vision54 program to get players envisioning a “perfect” round of golf with 18 birdies, a lot of people laughed and said that was unattainable. But is, really?

Fifty-four isn’t so crazy–not with the power, athleticism and fearlessness of today’s players.

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As I watched the final round of the British Open get played out between Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson, it became clear that something special was happening.

Phil birdied the first hole while Henrik bogeyed, but then Henrik made three birdies in a row. And then Phil made an eagle to pull within one again.

For the best players in the world, making birdies and eagles isn’t really a big deal. And it isn’t super rare for those players to enter a zone where every swing is effortless and the hole looks huge. Phil can tell you about the handful of times it really felt like everything was flowing, and he was playing at the absolute peak of his abilities.

But I don’t think people realize just how rare it is to see two players going head to head in the same pairing—two of the best players on the planet, playing at their highest level and doing it under the greatest pressure.

When in sports have we seen that?

The only time I can think of anything like it in my time is the 2008 Wimbledon final, when the second-ranked Rafael Nadal beat No. 1 Roger Federer in five sets. That match took five hours, and Nadal won just five more total points than Federer. It’s been called the greatest display of tennis of all time. We’re still talking about the Duel in the Sun, between Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson at Turnberry almost 40 years ago, because it was one of those historically great moments.

I think that’s what we just saw at Troon.


Think about it from Phil’s perspective. He missed setting the all-time major scoring record by a single shot in the first round—and did it by missing a putt that looked like it was in the center of the cup. He held the lead all the way through until late in the third round, and started Sunday trailing by a single shot. On Sunday, all he did was shoot a bogey-free 65—his lowest Sunday round ever in a major championship. It’s almost a cliche, but he was playing like a machine. But it wasn’t enough against a player who made 10 birdies and tied the final-round major scoring record himself.

In my practice, I help athletes recognize the inevitable pressure that comes with performing on the biggest stages, and give them tools to cope with that pressure. Henrik Stenson had never won a major in almost 20 years of trying, and had every reason to be the player that couldn’t deal with the size of the moment. But after that opening bogey, he never showed a hint of choking. I felt like I was watching something almost spiritual—a player finding the zone and staying in it, shot after shot after shot.

It was truly a shame that somebody had to lose.

But somebody did. If you’re Phil, what do you take away from a week when you shot a score that would have won virtually every other major ever played—but in this case, lost by three?

You don’t take it as a loss.

What Phil proved—to everybody, but more importantly to himself—is that it’s still in there for him. He has the game to win majors, and it’s a matter of taking what he had at Troon to Baltusrol for the PGA.

Let the tournament get in the way of machine.

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For an interesting look inside the mind of a top-level college athlete, read Albert Chen’s piece on Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave in the Aug. 31 issue of Sports Illustrated, linked here.

In it, he describes the painful process Stave went through to recover from a form of the “yips” in his throwing motion — a problem that threatened to derail his career.

In the article, I talk about the two different kind of yips athletes experience. The first kind are a movement disorder — an actual disconnect between the brain and the muscles. The second kind are a sort of panic attack — the mind being overwhelmed by the situation and essentially short circuiting.

There are interesting lessons for anybody to learn from Joel Stave’s recovery process. He build his confidence and calmness back by concentrating on the basics and fundamentals, and caring only about those instead of results.

Stave made it all the way back, and the senior is starting again for the Badgers this season. It will be great to watch him get back out there and enjoy the game.

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Watching Jordan Spieth dominate the Masters and hit clutch shot after clutch shot at the U.S. Open — and be by all accounts one of the most gracious and polite people on the PGA Tour — it’s very easy to forget that he’s only 21 years old.

Unlike Tiger Woods, who when he was dominating seemed to be doing things physically with the ball that many players couldn’t do, Spieth is more of an “regular” champion, if there is such a thing.

It’s fascinating to watch him go through this incredible stretch of performance and marvel at how well he seems to be able to handle the pressure and attention that come with golf at the highest level. This is a guy that not only doesn’t seem to crack under pressure, but thrives on it.


On the PGA Tour (and in every other sport at the world class level) the reality is that very little physically separates the competitors at the very top. They’re all extremely talented people, with physical skills the average fan can only dream about. The separation comes from how those players handle pressure, stress and adversity. For some, the moment gets to be too big.

Watching the John Deere Classic, you had to feel for Tom Gillis — a 46-year-old journeyman pro who was trying for his first PGA Tour victory. Spieth caught him at the end of regulation, then beat Gillis on the second hole of the playoff. Even though Gillis has been grinding it out on various tours since before Spieth was born, Jordan has lived a completely different kind of golf life, and actually has far more experience — and more recent experience — closing the deal at the end of a tournament.

Physically, mentally and emotionally, it was a mismatch.

It isn’t Gillis’ fault. He wasn’t the first person Jordan Spieth “out-toughed” at the end of a tournament, and he won’t be the last. That doesn’t have anything to do with Spieth’s ability to hit a ball 300 yards, or spin his 7-iron approach shot more than anybody else.

Jordan Spieth is one of those rare athletes that seems to get more comfortable the hotter it gets in the competitive arena. He looks comfortable — as if he’s where he wants to be, and his expectation is that he will hit the big shot. It doesn’t mean he always will — Michael Jordan missed plenty of game winners. But the huge difference between players like Spieth and Michael Jordan is that they did not see the potential to miss one of those shots as something to fear, or even think about.

They see the opportunity to make the big shot as the entire reason for being in the sport. It’s what they live for, and they can’t wait to have another opportunity to do it, and to feel the excitement that comes from not only pulling it off, but having the chance to pull it off.

Where does that come from?

That’s a good question. Part of it is certainly innate. Some people are born with more mental toughness, just like some people are born with more height. But some of it certainly comes from the atmosphere surrounding him as he grew up. He seems to have a strong, tight inner circle of family and friends, and a healthy inner circle can help keep an athlete grounded and with the right kind of perspective. Those strong, long-term relationships make it easier to avoid going down the road where the ego needs to be constantly satiated by attention.

The last piece of the puzzle is practice and training. Most of the best competitors in any sport understand that training the mind is just as important — if not more important — than training the body. They don’t go in unprepared.

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Go back and recount the incredible things Tiger Woods has done in his career—and there are a lot of them—and one of the most common threads in those stories is his competitiveness.

He had swagger, like virtually all the greatest players do.

It is a mixture of confidence, self-belief and even arrogance that makes the game so much easier for them to play. It doesn’t occur to them that they might fail, and it doesn’t even register as a worry—the way it does for the rest of us humans.

Except that Tiger is human.


Nobody is invincible forever.

It goes away for many reasons—injury, age, a new wave of competitors, a change in priorities, a change in motivation.

To watch Tiger the last few weeks is to see the opposite of that confident swagger. He seems to be in the perfect storm of negative factors, from confusion, panic and injury to outright dystonia—the yips.

I can only imagine what a heart rate monitor would say if it was hooked up to him during those rounds in Phoenix. He used to be the most confident golfer in the world, and now he looks like he’s laboring and grinding over the most basic of shots, wondering if he’s going to even advance the ball.

Add in the obvious discomfort he was in from his back in San Diego and it is a terrible thing to watch.

When you’re a player of Tiger’s caliber, attributing the issues in your game to superficial details like the bounce on the wedge or a change in swing patterns isn’t just offering up positive spin for the reporters. It’s lying to yourself, and when you do that it’s impossible to build confidence.

You start actually believing the rationalizations, and they become excuses for why you can’t do something. Eventually, failing just becomes a foregone conclusion.

The answer isn’t in biomechanics or technique. He’s proven himself on the highest possible level. It doesn’t mean he shouldn’t always be trying to tweak or perfect what he’s doing. The great ones are never static.

But he has to recognize the difference between tweaking and tearing everything down.

The tear-downs he’s aready gone through—at least three of them, with Butch Harmon, Hank Haney and Sean Foley—all took time and energy, and from what I understand, it took him longer each time to come out of the rabbit hole and be competitive again.

That isn’t surprising. The more often you do something like that, the more information you’re trying to overlay in your mind. You’re also dealing with the reality of older age. Almost nothing we do at age 39 is as easy as it would have been at 19 or 29.

That’s a reality even Tiger Woods will eventually have to accept.

So what now?

I’m not inside Tiger’s head, so I don’t know exactly what the underlying issues are, but I can make an educated guess about what he needs to do—and what he needs to stop doing.

The rationalizations have to stop. They’re proof he needs a psychologist more than he needs a swing coach. I can certainly understand where they’re coming from. He’s in a place he’s never been before, and he’s trying to keep it together in front of the most attention any player ever got. But until you get past the rationalizations, you can never actually fix the issue.

He needs to withdraw for a few months and take a breather from everything—rebuilding his swing, worrying about the chipping yips, all of it. He needs to get his body healthy and his mind much more calm. Golf has gone from being an automated movement to being a conscious effort. That’s not just a figure of speech. When he’s chipping, he’s routing the signals through his motor cortex and actually interrupting the motion.

There’s an old Sufi parable I really like that speaks to this situation. A man lost his keys, so he went outside and started to look for them in the bright light of day. The Sufi Master walks by and sees the man, and asks him “What are you searching for?” The man replied that he lost his keys inside the house. “Then why are you searching outside?” asked the Sufi Master.

“Because the light is better out here,” said the man.

Tiger seems to be looking for the lost key outside, when what he really needs to be doing is looking at himself. It might be time for him to stop what he’s doing, retrace his steps and try to get comfortable with himself and who he is before he gets too far down that rabbit hole.

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Tiger Woods has always played golf like it is a combat sport.

He is ferociously (and famously) competitive, and he has spent almost two decades physically and mentally dominating the other competitors on the PGA Tour.

That single-minded determination is what made it possible for him to win four consecutive majors, and later take the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines while playing on a broken leg.

But it’s also what could make it very hard for him to transition into this next phase of his career.

It doesn’t matter who you are—Michael Jordan, Jack Nicklaus or Brett Favre. Time doesn’t stop, and you can’t go backwards. Nobody can always be the fittest 25-year-old on the Tour, hitting it 20 yards by everybody and staring down every pressure putt with no change in your pulse.

Tiger has two choices.

He can continue to try to be the guy he’s been, and attempt recapture the physical and mental dominance from his past. He might even find it for a week, a month or even a season. But his body isn’t as resilient as it was, and he just isn’t in the same place in his life where he can be so single-minded in his approach.

It’s a recipe for burning out. In 20 years of private practice, I’ve seen dozens of professional athletes and members of elite military units grind themselves up this way.

Or, he can take a page from some of the champions who have endured, like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Gordie Howe or even a rival like Phil Mickelson.

Those players learned how to adapt, and to use wisdom, moxie and experience to compliment their physical skills. They won a different way.

Mickelson is a great example. He’s 44 years old, and he has psoriatic arthritis—a condition that puts realistic limits on the number of weeks in a year he can play without pain.

So Phil plays fewer events and builds his schedule around the events that matter the most to him. He puts everything in place so that he can stay fresh and have the most juice for the four majors.

Tiger’s choice for a new swing consultant seems to be a good first step. Chris Como is known for his biomechanical expertise, and Goal One has to be getting Tiger to the point where he can compete without worrying about getting hurt. If Tiger can play pain free, he then has the room to do the important confidence rebuilding that will let him play at his new peak, whatever that might be.

Maybe he can even learn how to enjoy playing without all the expectations and pressure from his early career. He can tap in to all of the vast knowledge and experience and savor the big and small wins that come from out-thinking the field instead of dominating it into submission. He’s been saying the right things at the Hero World Challenge this week, about nobody escaping Father Time.

It probably isn’t a coincidence that Tiger has built a strong relationship with Lindsay Vonn. When you’re Tiger Woods, there aren’t many people who truly understand what your life is really like.

Vonn does.

She’s is a world-class athlete in her own right, and knows the good and bad of competing in the spotlight. She’s also had to deal with the massive disappointment and doubt that comes from getting seriously injured. It’s impossible to overstate how valuable that is for somebody in Tiger’s position.

Tiger Woods already knows more than almost anyone alive how to win. If he can embrace a different strategy to get there, there’s no reason it has to stop.

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In the last fifteen years, helping players on the PGA Tour as a sports psychiatrist, I

have rarely heard the term hypnosis used. However, hypnosis is often defined by a

state of attentive and receptive concentration, with a relative suspension of peripheral

awareness that is common when players are playing their best. This timely article by

Dr. Simon Jenkins presents a historic overview of hypnosis theory and practical

application. Dr. Jenkins’ presentation makes it easily understandable why the term

hypnosis is so often associated with the occult and is not well understood and often


Hypnotizability is a stable and measurable trait. Research has demonstrated that

highly hypnotizable subjects can alter the how their own brain-process stimuli. By

extrapolation, these research studies can lead one to hypothesize that a baseball player

in deep trance, while at bat, may in fact perceive the moving baseball with greater

speed and efficiency.

Some individuals are more hypnotizable than others, and hypnotizability in the

general population is thought to reflect a statistically normal distribution.

Hypnotizability is not a sign of weak-mindedness, nor is it intrinsically dangerous.

Hypnosis is not something you do with a client or to a client. At some level, all

hypnosis seems to be a form of self-hypnosis. If clients can be helped to understand

that they have the ability to influence their own mental processes, they will have

developed a powerful and practical tool. Indeed, as Dr. Jenkins asserts, hypnosis is

best utilized when it is well understood by the practitioner.

Dr. David Spiegel and Dr. Ernest Hillgard from Stanford University developed the

Hypnotic Induction Profile and Stanford Hypnotic Clinical scale, respectively. Dr.

Spiegel has suggested that hypnosis is best conceptualized by understanding its three

componets: absorption, dissociation, and suggestibility. Absorption refers to an

individual’s ability to mentally focus with complete immersion in a central theme,

such as completely falling into the experience of watching a good film and transiently

losing track of the surrounding world. Dissociation is complementary to absorption,

such that an individual can remove certain perceptual experiences out of conscious

awareness. This phenomenon may be an evolutionary adaptation that allows an

individual to endure horrific traumas involving the experience of pain, such that the

pain is dissociated from conscious awareness thereby facilitating attention to critical

survival tasks. Suggestibility is conceptualized as a heightened responsiveness to

social cues involving the suspension of conscious curiosity. It is a way that allows one

to believe whatever they are being told. These three components imply that hypnotic

trance may alter normal perceptual processing in productive ways.


In the world of sport, the application of hypnosis is insidiously present but rarely

discussed. In my clinical experience, most elite athletes engage in some form of selfhypnotic

techniques whether it is termed progressive relaxation, positive self-talk,

“getting into their game face,” or visualization. As sport psychologists and

psychiatrists, therefore, we have an opportunity to help athletes benefit from their

own natural ability to be hypnotized.

Like many clinicians, I often avoid the term ‘hypnosis’ when working with clients

because of the negative associations involved. However, before utilizing hypnotic

trance, I evaluate its likelihood, value and appropriateness. The client’s ability to

enter a trance-like state can be assessed by administering the Hypnotic Induction

Profile; a high score indicates that hypnosis is likely if resistance can be overcome.

Because psychiatric illnesses such as post-traumatic stress, anxiety and conversion

disorders all have a strong association with hypnotizability, a comprehensive clinical

psychological assessment is a prerequisite. If an individual has a history of

psychopathology, past hypnotic induction carries a greater risk of unmasking

repressed memories and accessing painful experiences that can lead to the destabilizing

of the client. Thus, use of hypnosis as a tool to enhance sport performance

may require considerable clinical experience and judgment.

Most PGA Tour golfers do not have psychiatric illness, but the possibility

nevertheless remains an important consideration that mandates solid clinical training

before getting involved with a client’s unconscious mind. In addition, highly

hypnotizable individuals may be given a variety of post-hypnotic suggestions that

may not be appropriate; e.g., “bark like a dog” or “kiss your friend’s wife”, when you

are awoken. The impressive phenomenon of post-hypnotic suggestion mandates that

the practitioner should not only be clinically trained, but also consistently practice

with the highest ethical standards.

If the clinician does not possess the necessary clinical training to navigate ethically

and therapeutically through the unconscious mind of the athlete, teaching selfhypnotic

techniques are preferable. Although self-hypnotic techniques often result in

lighter trance states, they can still be very effective. Self-hypnosis also involves the

three basic components of hypnosis, but because the trance is self-induced

inappropriate post-hypnotic suggestions are avoided and the phenomena of

unmasking repressed memories are rare.


Dr. Jenkins’ article provides clinicians, coaches and teachers with the necessary

overview if they want to take advantage of an athlete’s own gift for trance. When an

athlete is in trance they often perform their best. Whether the clinician actively

hypnotizes the client or teaches the client self-hypnotic techniques, the resulting

trance state often enhances the athlete’s sense of mastery, independence, and

confidence – all of which are fundamental goals of the practicing sports psychologist

or psychiatrist.

Editor’s Note: Dr. Michael Lardon is an Associate Clinical Professor in the

Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego. He also

provides general psychiatry, psychopharmacology and performance enhancement for

members of the PGA, LPGA and Nationwide Tours. He is author of Finding Your

Zone: Ten Core Lessons for Achieving Peak Performance in Sports and Life.


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Whether you look at the results on the course or the friction surrounding Tom Watson’s captaincy, it’s clear the American Ryder Cup system is in disarray. The 16.5 to 11.5 result at Gleneagles was Europe’s eighth win in the last 10 Ryder Cups—including the last three. Even if Watson had somehow managed to conjure the best out of his team in September, it’s arguable that it wouldn’t made enough of a difference to beat the Europeans—who had the World No. 1 in Rory McIlroy, the winners of the last two U.S. Opens in Martin Kaymer and Justin Rose and two of the greatest Ryder Cup players of all time in Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter.

What does that mean for the Americans going forward, and how should they structure the search for the next captain—and, more importantly, an overall strategy that will let them be competitive?

I think it starts with acknowledging the realities of social structure.

The “pod” system Paul Azinger used so successfully in 2008 worked because it worked within these realities. European teams seem to bond well as a group—even if they’re playing for a less-than-popular captain—because the nature of a team event is an extension of what they do week in and week out during the regular season. American players, on the other hand, are much more solitary week-to-week, so the bonding experience is more complicated.

Creating bonds within groups isn’t rocket science. It’s a function of time and size. If you have a large group, like the cast of a Broadway show, it takes some time to create that bond, but after a long series of rehearsals, you have a group that can pull together. By the time the U.S. team is selected and it’s time to get serious, you’re talking about two weeks of bonding time. It isn’t enough for a group that size.

That’s why the pod system worked. You can get four like-minded people to get together and bond in a much shorter time—which is what the Americans did in 2008.

The other piece the next captain has to acknowledge is that playing professional golf at the tour level almost always demands a particular kind of independent personality. That doesn’t mean American players don’t want to be on a team, or that they don’t care about representing their country. It just means they aren’t as used to the team element as a basketball or football player would be.

American tour players are the ultimate “lone wolves” for most of their career. They’re the only ones ultimately responsible for the scores they shoot—and, in fact, that solitary responsibility is probably a significant part of why they gravitated toward golf in the first place.

When you take a collection of independent, self-directed players and bring them together as a team, you’re going to get friction if you don’t account for those personalities in an interactive way.

The friction between Phil Mickelson and Tom Watson looked like it was a result of a clash in communication styles. It was a tension you could feel through the television during that last interview session. Phil is a veteran and in a leadership position on the team. Watson is the captain—and is a legend as a player. If they aren’t together—even if it’s more unspoken—you get two messages. The team knows the vibe isn’t good.

That by itself isn’t why the Americans lost. Europe’s players had a lot to do with it. But if you’re the underdog, you can’t afford to give up any freebies.

The unity of the European squad has allowed it to take advantage of some of the “team drafting” effects that the most successful organizations in other sports have been able to employ. One of the interesting things I’ve seen in working with Tour de France riders is this phenomenon that they train better when they ride together. It’s not so much about the wind advantage of riding with a group. It’s about pulling each other along emotionally. When you’re with a group that has to tackle a tough hill, you have this connectivity—even if we don’t understand the exact mechanism of how it works. Even in situations where an individual on the team has a dominant performance—like Michael Phelps in the Olympics—he helps pull his teammates along. You didn’t hear about it because Phelps won so many medals, but the rest of the American team had dominant performances. They saw it could be done, and they did it, too.

To fix it, the Americans need to address the whole problem of cohesiveness, and perhaps give up some of the flexibility that previous captains have enjoyed. Instead of changing the qualification process and picking captains with lots of different styles and personalities, it’s probably better to build a “program” like Europe has—with a cycle of continuity. I’m sure that’s something the PGA of America’s new task force is considering. Picking a captain like Azinger for the next go-round might be popular—and a good short-term fix—but the overall strategy and and approach needs to change.

For any American captain to be successful, I think he’s going to need to fix that cohesiveness issue, but also build a sense of pride within the group long before the matches start. The European players know their roles and their potential partners long before they get to the event, and only have to focus on playing golf.

They also, as a group, put as much value on winning the Ryder Cup as a team as they do winning majors as individuals.

That basic fact will probably be the toughest one for the Americans to replicate. Having the two most decorated major championship winners in the game over the last decade hasn’t been enough for the U.S. to be successful. Until that mindset changes—or Rory McIlroy shows signs of slowing down—it might be a long time before the Americans go into a Ryder Cup as anything approaching a favorite.

Posted by & filed under Media Center.

Adapted from Mastering Golf’s Mental Game: Your Ultimate Guide to Better On-Course Performance and Lower Scores, copyright © 2014 by Dr. Michael T. Lardon. To be published by Crown Archetype, an imprint of Random House LLC, on Sept. 16, $25.

GolfDigest8-2014Over the past 10 years, I’ve been helping golfers like Phil Mickelson find high-value motivation to continue to improve year after year, and showing them how to use the strong results orientation they all have in a productive way. One of the basic tools for this work is what I call the Mental Scorecard.

Golf is a game of score and measurement. You write down your score for each hole, and you plug your final score into the computer. You’re judged by your handicap, just like PGA Tour players are judged by their finishes and rank on the money list.

We all know intuitively that it’s best to be focused on the process, or the task at hand. But we can’t help but try to peek forward at what our results might be: If I can par out, I can break 80 for the first time, or All I have to do is two-putt here. Or we chew over past results: I never hit a good tee shot here, or I always choke under pressure. When you dilute your attention that way, it’s hard to perform at your best.

Read more »

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When Phil Mickelson was looking for a way to get over his crushing loss at the 2013 U.S. Open, he went to mental performance coach Dr. Michael Lardon for help. A month later, Mickelson went to Muirfield and won the Claret Jug for the first time.

Lardon has been helping PGA Tour stars, NFL players, mixed martial artists and Olympic gold medalists for more than 20 years. His new book, Mastering Golf’s Mental Game — excerpted in the August issue — reveals the strategies he uses on tour and shows average players how to use a mental scorecard to evaluate and improve the way they think about the game.

This week, Dr. Lardon helps you tackle some of your most nagging mental game issues as a part of our regular #HelpMeGolfDigest series. You’re not alone — and your golf neuroses are probably easier to fix than you think.
Reader Stephen Elwes was one of dozens who asked about the same problem — getting the pre-round jitters before an important event.

 “Let’s talk try to understand this fear a little bit more first,” says Lardon, who is a practicing psychiatrist and mood disorder specialist in San Diego. “Is there anything actually physically dangerous out on the golf course? It’s probably more accurate to describe it as some anxiety about playing badly. Anxiety can actually amp you up and help you hit the ball a little farther. The key is to reframe how you feel as natural, and something you can use. If it really is fear, you want to channel that fear into a productive use. Come up with a specific mental and physical routine you use for every shot, and reframe your fear as being afraid of what will happen if you don’t go through that routine.
Another popular subject was the feeling of being overwhelmed by technical swing thoughts.
“If your mind is getting scattered or focusing on the wrong thing, you need what I call a ‘thought script,'” says Lardon. “If you’re thinking about a bunch of technical things, change it up and follow the script for the shot you’re hitting — something like ‘I want to take my driver and cut this shot off the left tree line. I’m going to finish the shot open and high.’ Pick the shot, recite the thought script to yourself and hit it”
By far the most questions came from people with problems similar to Jim O’Shea’s and Jacob Thompson’s — getting past a bad (or good) hole.



“These are the kind of issues where the Mental Scorecard is perfect,” says Lardon. “In simple terms, you want to be grading yourself on how you go through your process of playing a shot, not on what the results are — good or bad. You do that by establishing a mental and physical routine, and measuring yourself on how well you pick your shot, go through that routine and go into action. The best tour players do these things right 97 or 98 percent of the time. You can get a free scorecard at and see how you’re doing.”